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Sheikh not rattled by topweight for Dunaden

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Chris Roots

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Every Melbourne Cup runner

Not sure which horse to back? Our racing experts analyse all 24 contenders for the 2012 Melbourne Cup.

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SHEIKH FAHAD AL THANI might have the world's best stayer in defending Melbourne Cup champion Dunaden, but if you believe the scientists he should be a sprinter.

The latest step forward in science involves DNA testing for thoroughbreds to predict what sort of horse they are. For a racing enthusiast like Fahad, it caught his interest.

"We had all our horses tested and there were some great results,'' he said. "Dunaden showed up to be a sprinter, according to them, but maybe he is [going by] the way he won the Caulfield Cup.

Bit of a yawn … Dunaden goes about his exercise at Werribee on Sunday.

Bit of a yawn … Dunaden goes about his exercise at Werribee on Sunday. Photo: Joe Armao

"We got a list of all the results and we are assessing them at the moment. I want to sit down in a couple of weeks and see how the results measure up. There was another filly in the stable that tested as a group 1 horse and she recently won a group 1, so that was promising.

"I don't know if I agree with it but I wanted to see what they would come up with. I think if you are able to look at the DNA and decide what sort of horse you get, it would take something away from racing," he said.

Fahad was a relaxed man at Werribee on Sunday and is looking forward to getting back to Flemington on Tuesday. He still hadn't laid his hands on the Caulfield Cup Dunaden won a fortnight ago but glowed when he spoke of the win.

"I watched it on TV and he looked fantastic all the way,'' Fahad said.

"Coming to the turn I thought 'don't pull too wide' and then he came widest of all but it was the right move and a great win.

"He gets the extra kilo because of that win but he deserves it. I'm sure Craig [Williams] will ride him very well and hopefully I will get my hands on that Cup on Tuesday.''

History is against Dunaden winning this year's Cup as no horse has humped a weight as high as 59kg to win since Rain Lover won his second Melbourne Cup in 1969. Makybe Diva carried 58kg in her third cup win in 2005, while Think Big won under 58.5kg to become a back-to-back Cup winner in 1975.

Fahad said the Melbourne Cup hadn't been in the plans for Dunaden this year. The Caulfield Cup was going to be the target until a foot abscess put him behind in his preparation, so trainer Mikel Delzangles put the Big One back on the agenda.

"I met with Mikel and [racing manager] David Redvers about two or three months ago and we thought the Caulfield Cup was his race,'' Fahad said. "But he had that foot abscess and missed three crucial pieces of work and we thought he was not going to be ready for it.

"He was up for it but there was still some improvement left in him, so we are very happy with him going to the Melbourne Cup. He is 100 per cent. He has a lot more weight this year but he is a champion.''

Fahad is looking for his next challenge in Australian racing. He has half a dozen two-year-olds with Melbourne trainers but he would love to return and win the Cox Plate as his next target.

"It is getting harder to buy the right horse for the Melbourne Cup because all the Australians are coming over [to Europe] looking for horses,'' he said. ''You people have too much money.

"I have my horse for next year, he is back in England. We have had [him] for a year for so and I think he is the right horse.

"Dunaden has won a Melbourne and Caulfield Cup, I would like to win the Cox Plate but you need to find the right horse and I have been looking for it for a while."

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